x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Hosts of Footvolley World Cup in Dubai hope sport will take off

Three pitches are being constructed at The Walk, Jumeirah Beach Residence, for the competition, which will be held from October 27 to 29.

Brazil's Anderson kicks the ball during a Footvolley match with Paraguay at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in March.
Brazil's Anderson kicks the ball during a Footvolley match with Paraguay at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in March.

DUBAI // Jamal Saif, the man responsible for bringing the Footvolley World Cup to the UAE, is hoping the sport will become a regular feature on the country's beaches after the tournament later this month.

Three pitches are being constructed at The Walk, Jumeirah Beach Residence, for the competition, which will be held from October 27 to 29. The main pitch will seat 3,000 fans, while 500 fans can watch the matches at each of the other pitches.

There will be 32 teams from 26 countries taking part in the event, with four of them from Brazil, the birthplace of the sport, while Paraguay and Holland will have two teams each.

The teams will be divided into eight groups of four each and the top two from each will advance to the knockout stages.

"Many Brazilian football superstars like Romario and Ronaldinho play this sport," Saif, the tournament director, said.

"It is an exciting sport to watch and play. It is a great exercise as well. With our beaches and people from all over the world living here, I believe this sport will catch on.

"The World Cup should really help us in promoting it. It is very similar to beach volleyball, but the net is lower."

Footvolley is a combination of football and beach volleyball, but without the use of hands. From a modest start at Rio de Janeiro's famous Copacabana beach in 1965, the game has grown in popularity around the globe.

Amer Ali, the president of the Volleyball Association and chairman of the World Cup organising committee, is also hoping to see footvolley become an established sport in the UAE.

"We are proud and happy to put this event on our CV," Ali said. "We are looking to get footvolley officially recognised and welcome it to the UAE sports family, whether as a part of the volleyball federation or as an independent entity."

The tournament is being held under the patronage of Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, the Crown Prince of Dubai and chairman of Dubai Sports Council (DSC), and Dr Ahmad Al Sharif, the secretary general of DSC, and launched the official website of the tournament, www.footvolleyuae.ae, last night.

"Jamal Saif has worked really hard for this tournament," said Al Sharif.

"Without his efforts, it would not have been possible. He tried for many years to bring this tournament here and he has finally succeeded. He created a very good team to help him organise the event.

"This is a very good tournament to come to Dubai and add charm to our beaches. It is also a very good sport to stay fit.

"One of the strategic goals for us at DSC is to support sport tourism since we have these beautiful beaches and many communities living here. This is one of the tournaments which will help us."

arizvi@thenational.ae


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